Friday, May 17, 2013

[Nails] Psychedelic Swirls: Adventures with XL Nail Stamping Plate B

If you're an expert, you probably already know everything I'm about to say.
But if you like doing your nails but haven't heard of "Konad" or "nail stamping", it's one of the easiest ways to "cheat" and create intricate designs on your nails without visiting a salon.

People who get into stamping get quite fanatic about it, because it's such an economical way to jazz up your nail look. Plates and stampers can be re-used for years, and there are so many different looks and effects you can get into. It's also not hard as long as you use the right polish and good quality plates.

Stamping Tools:
To get started, you need a
  • metal stamping plate with some designs on it
  • a flat scraper (some people use old gift cards or credit cards)
  • a rubberized stamping tool
  • stamping polish (or any existing polish that is very thick, very pigmented)
Konad is one of the best-known brands that supply metal stamping plates and all the peripheral accessories like rubber stampers and metal scrapers (you can find them on They also supply stamping polishes. Now Konad stamps and polishes aren't cheap, and there are so many different designs that you often find yourself in a "gotta collect 'em all" situation.

In recent years, many manufacturers have come up with alternatives to Konad, most of which are much more affordable. "XL" stamping plates like these below can have up to 40+ designs on them and cost as low as about US$7 each on Amazon and eBay, if you buy 3 of them.
Not all work extremely well, but most are ok, and a lot depends on the stamping polish you use.

Tips on Choosing Plates:
  • "full-nail", like the plate I show here, means the designs can more or less pattern an entire nail (recommended)
  • "french-tip" designs are rectangular patterns that are applied just as a fancy french-tip (not recommended*)
  • "Object" designs are things like skulls, flowers, hello kitty, hearts, ribbons, etc. (recommended)
  • Watch out for designs that are either super thin and "web-like" (some are too fine for polish to go into the grooves properly) or too deep (your polish will "squish" and make a mess when you try to stamp). I do know most of the Cheeky XL plates and the Konads are good quality; i.e. someone actually tested them before releasing them.

Why I won't recommend choosing a french-tip design plate if you're trying to be economical is because you get more bang for your buck with a full-nail design plate. If you see the above example, the full-nail designs usually come with one curved edge, so you have the option of:
  • applying the design just to the tip using the curved side, for a french manicure
  • leaving a curved gap right at the bed/root of the nail so you have a moon manicure (if you don't know what a moon manicure is, see below)
  • applying over the entire nail

Stamping Process
I won't go into the too many details since many of you would rather not read a super-long post. 
What you do is to
  1. apply nail polish onto a design
  2. use the scraper to gently scrape over the design so polish is left only in the carved grooves
  3. use the rubber head of the stamper to transfer the polish design from the plate onto your nail
  4. Top coat to seal in your design
There are some tricks to getting it right of course, and you can take a look at videos here to get a feel of how to do it!

More Tips
  • [Repetition, I know] It's all about the stamping polish. If you don't want to buy special stamping polishes, you will need to take some time to experiment with what's in your collection.
  • Don't expect to get it perfect on the first try. Just finding the right polishes in your collection that work well can take quite awhile, if you prefer not to shell out for Konad polishes (like me).
  • Practice makes perfect. Watch a few videos and see how they scrape and roll the stamper. It took me quite awhile to finally grasp it.
  • If you use a complementary color to your base polish shade, the design will be much more subtle (see the green-on-blue Asiatic fish-scale design above).
  • If you use a contrasting color (my rose-red psychedelic spirals below), the design will stand out obviously.
  •  Metallic polishes tend to show up nicer than regular cream polishes. Cream polishes need to be very thick and opaque in order to make good stamping polishes.
  • Try an accent nail in a shade that matches the stamping color, for a little extra flare.
  • Try to use as little strokes as possible when applying top coat. Going over the same area 2 or more times could cause the stamped color to smear/run.


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